“People misinterpret my passion for anger”

6 03 2011

Charlie Sheen was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He never had to worry about anything or want for anything.  He was given free reign at birth to do whatever he pleased.  Today, he blames his father (who basically gave him that silver spoon and freedom) for his wreck of a life.  Is that wrong? In some ways, not so much.  If you have lived your entire life doing as you please, no matter how bad it may be, and not suffered any real consequences then why not? Sure, this path of destruction began with the freedom of being a rich, spoiled, Hollywood son but in his adult life is his father really still to blame? Well, being so spoiled in his youth was the groundwork for not having to mature and deal with reality but how has he evaded reality in his adult life? He has done things many common men would still be sitting in a jail cell over, yet Charlie Sheen has never had to do so.  Our legal system has continued to polish the silver spoon forever planted in his mouth by continuing to allow him to avoid the consequences of his actions simply because he’s a rich celebrity who can afford to buy his way out of any situation he may find himself in.  His only real consequences have been that he is under the media microscope.  Is he crazy? Maybe not.  If I had such a silver spoon in my mouth and a microscope over my actions, perhaps I too would be beyond obnoxious.  It only seems logical.  Why are we so shocked? I’m not.  I love it.  I think he’s spitting in the faces of all the fools who enabled him.  He really is winning… at least for now.  Even though there are no legal consequences for his actions that we’ve really seen, I do believe there will be some health issues in his future.  There probably already are and we just don’t know it yet.  But, while we all sit back and enjoy the showing of Charlie’s melt down  there are bigger questions left unanswered.

For instance, why is this man’s moronic behavior headline news when so many other things are going on in this world that are far more worthy of our attention? Is this part of the media’s game as they work closely with our favorite Uncle Sam to distract us from real news?  Is Charlie Sheen’s decline really more important to our daily lives than the unraveling of the middle east, the raping of the middle class American or the push to continually feed racism? Is Charlie Sheen an optimal candidate for the destruction of his name because he was once on the front lines fighting against our government with his support of the 911 conspiracy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyKR2-A0KPU

Granted, the government didn’t drive him to the ultimate insanity that we are eating up daily but in all seriousness, he’s 1 in a million… a million egotistical addicts who think they are winning.  He’s really not that different than anyone else.  He got paid over a million per episode of “Two & ½ Men”.  Nearly 200 episodes have aired in 7 years.  That’s a butt load of cash.  Do you really think you’d be the same person you are today if you had that kind of cash? Seriously? Ok, well you can lie to me if you want but don’t lie to yourself.  Personally, I have a bit of a demanding nature and if I was worth over 200 million I think I’d be a raging bitch.  I probably wouldn’t do any of the hard drugs but I’d try like hell to keep up with my new friends in the Hollywood scene.  I guess I’d be drinking a lot of Starbucks Double Shots to stay up, maybe shooting up some B12 and such.  I’d be the healthy freak.  I can’t deny that if I got interviewed I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say some crazy shit like “I’m high on Susan Monti” because…well, frankly I would be.  I always like to joke and be sarcastic though, and having the world as my audience would probably fuel my fire beyond description.  Being obnoxious is fun, but us regular folks can’t get away with it the way a celebrity can.  Money really is a God.  With money comes freedom, power, immediate gratification, and so many things us regular folks can’t acquire.  I’m sure having millions upon millions of dollars is quite the high in itself and spending it any way you like is probably pretty addictive.

I’m only human.  I’m enjoying the Charlie Sheen show just as much as everyone else.  I’m in no position to judge anyone, especially if I’ve never been ‘in their shoes’.  I can say, in my current pair of shoes, what I’d do if I were worth millions and it would be sharing with everyone I love, traveling, raising awareness on the causes that matter most to me and donating to them, and more of that kind of stuff.  And, of course, having a good time all the time.  I can also honestly say, I’ve never wanted to be a celebrity.  Truly.  Now, of course I’d like to be rich but there’s only so much money you can spend in a lifetime and even though it can buy a lot of fabulous stuff, it can never buy true love.  I would be happy if I was in a financial position where I and those I love would never have to do without anything we needed.  My dream has always been to write a best seller and be known for that.  When that happens, then I will be winning.

Anyway, in all of my recent viewings of Charlie’s chattering I have to say my favorite quote is “People misinterpret my passion for anger”. Oh come on, who hasn’t felt that way?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od9FkRvvnrg

Have a great Saturday night everyone & be as obnoxious as you can afford to be

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Thinking outside the bun

11 10 2010

Tom cooked a feast of beef ribs, sautéed with veggies in a golden sauce over rice… with a side of southern style corn and asparagus salad.  Served with a refreshing coca-cola.  It was nice.  We don’t eat many dinners together because of our conflicting schedules.  Now, I can’t quite remember how it came about but I think I was referring to the dogs when I said “Flash always gets the ‘shit end of the stick’ when I throw them scraps of food” (because Jackie is just much faster). Anyway, this spawned a conversation about where the saying “Shit end of the stick” comes from.  I know where I got it from (and she’ll beat me if she reads this, but … ) it was something my mom always said and it stuck with me.   So, over our fine dining we tried to derive where the phrase originated.  We both agreed that it probably stems from olden days when there wasn’t really any sewerage or flushing of toilets as we are so spoiled by today and that probably you had to dispose of shit by somehow shoving it down a hole with a stick …  therefore, occasionally you’d goof up and grab the “shit end of the stick”.  Well, needless to say we were wrong, but it made for fun conversation over fine dining, don’t you think?
Well, much to our disappointment, The proper saying is “Short end of the stick” or “Wrong end of the stick”… even though my mom’s version is much more fun … but here’s what I learned:
This expression refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. It originated in the 1400s as “worse end of the staff” and changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s. Also see “Short end of the stick”.  The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal. For example, ‘Helen got the short end of the stick when she was assigned another week of night duty.’ The precise analogy in this term, first recorded in the 1930s, has been lost. Some believe it comes from worse end of the staff, used since the early 1500s, which in the mid-1800s  became, in some instances, short end of the stick.
-From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms_(1997) by Christine Ammer
And, of course, all this fun talk of food and poop reminded me of yet another time these 2 very different objects were intertwined in my life…
In the early 90’s I was struggling financially, but I loved my job and all of the people I worked with. We had been in business for at least four years together and all employees were there from the grand opening and throughout. We were a tight knit family who had grown to know each other very well over the years. The business was growing and we had to make room for new employees. We hired a new guy in the sales office and a couple of guys for the operations department. I chose the guys for operations and both were very good friends of mine, so they fit right in. The new guy in sales, John, was also new to the area. Though he was a stranger, our family extended a warm welcome and strived to have him fit in as well. John was very different, however. He always seemed kind of shady and we all struggled with accepting him, even though we all gave it an honest effort. He was a heavy set man and dressed rather frumpy. His jokes were bad and he was very weak with customer service. Anyway, as I said, this was a time of financial struggle in my life. One of my biggest struggles was the fact that I absolutely loved to fine dine and couldn’t afford to. I loved to feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner … but unfortunately, I couldn’t afford most of my expensive feasts. So, I trained myself to eat a small breakfast, but have a large lunch. Lunch meant more to me than any other meal. I always went all out for lunch. I would have steak lunches with baked potatoes, steamed veggies, bread and salad or something equally as extravagant daily. I decided I would force myself to eat half of my meal at lunch and then take the other half home for dinner. It was working out well, and I was saving money. I had been practicing this concept for a few months before our new associates had joined the team. I would simply place the other half of my meal, stored in to-go boxes, in the break room fridge to retrieve later before going home from a hard day’s work. Not long after we had the new associates join our staff, I started noticing that my to-go boxes were being ravished. It wasn’t a small ravishing either. I would open a box when I got home to find only the fat from the steak trimmed off and left behind with maybe one sprig of broccoli, 1 salad cruton and teeth marks left on my piece of bread and such. This was happening almost daily. I was infuriated by this. I complained several times around the office, making very clear that I did not appreciate someone consistently stealing my food and that I could not afford it as well as it was a very rude thing to do. I went to my boss about it several times and he said I was overreacting, maybe the thief needed the food more than me. I began leaving notes with my lunches that said things like “Please don’t eat this, I can’t afford to feed you and me”, but the culprit would simply move my note aside and eat my food. I suppose the straw that broke the camel’s back (another great saying) was the day I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered quesadillas. This was one of my favorite things to eat. They come in the shape of a half circle and are stuffed with chicken, cheese, sour cream and all sorts of goodness. I remember my joy of having a full, beautiful and delicious quesadilla saved for my dinner. I thought about it all day long. I really struggled during lunch not to eat the 2nd quesadilla. It weighed heavy on my mind … oh, the melted cheese swirling in rich sour cream, with savory shreds of perfectly seasoned chicken breast … it called my name all afternoon, but I refrained. When 5 o’clock struck, I rushed to the kitchen to snatch up my to-go box. Then I froze, what if someone had eaten it again? What if I was about to get screwed out of my dream dinner? Slowly I opened the box … and there I found … the quesadilla, almost completely eaten. The bastard had eaten it from the straight edge all the way to the round outer edge, leaving me just about a half inch frame work of nothing but fajita dough with disgusting teeth marks all around it. All the cheesy, creamy and chickeny goodness was gone. After blasting a slew of obscenities and storming out of the kitchen with my useless to go box, I threw it on the passenger seat of my car and drove home on fire with a rage and desire for revenge.
I stewed for about one week. I continued to eat lunches for several days and have the remains stolen from me. But, I quit reacting and just took the pitiful boxes of raped left-overs home with me. The fact that I had quit reacting should’ve been a sure sign to take cover, but that gluttonous bastard didn’t catch a clue from it. The following Friday, instead of feasting on a delicious meal, I went to the drive-thru at Taco bell.  I ordered 2 burritos and 2 sides of pinto beans with cheese and sour cream.  I went home and ate one of each, then I took the two extras and began my project.  Carefully I unwrapped the second burrito and unfolded the flour tortilla, scooping out the center of beef and beany goodness and refilling it with several turds from my cat’s litter box … dotted nicely with pebbles of litter.  I re-folded the tortilla and placed the newly designed burrito in a Styrofoam box from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I then put a small clump of cat pee infested litter beside it and gently scooped the pinto beans on top, keeping the sweet dallop of sour cream on top.  I placed a decorative piece of parsley between the two fancified items and closed the lid.  I returned to the office and put the surprise to-go box in the fridge.  As the day progressed I was overcome with excitement to check the box, but I refrained.  By 4:30, I could no longer resist.  I went to the box, and sure enough, he had eaten more than half of the burrito.  Without a word, I penned a note and stuck it on top of the box that read “I was really looking forward to eating that cat shit burrito, but once again you stole my food.  I hope you enjoyed eating my cat’s shit, asshole!”  He never ate my lunch again.  Ironically, a couple of months later he was caught stealing from the company.  I guess shit eating John couldn’t get enough of his cake and eating it too. (I know, I’m just full of catch phrases this evening!)
And now, just for fun.  If you’ve never tried this, it’s a must.  We made this cake for a friend of ours who is a real cat lover.  It’s kitty litter cake.  Here’s a picture of the cake we made below with the recipe.  Believe it or not, this cake tastes freakin’ awesome and it’s very easy to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).
  2. Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.
  3. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup add a few drops of green food coloring and mix.
  4. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.
  5. Line kitty litter box with the kitty litter liner. Put cake mixture into box.
  6. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle a small amount of the green colored cookie crumbs lightly over the top.
  7. Heat 3 or 4 of the tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with some of the green cookie crumbs. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few green cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper.




Coming out of the dark

29 08 2010

It’s impossible to condense the Hurricane Katrina experience in a few short blogs let alone the 5 years that have followed.  I have tried, but came to the realization that it would be several more blogs to truly give the full spectrum.  In the first 3 blogs of this series I have given you a taste of my personal experience during the storm and the days that (immediately) followed along with a few bits of other survivor’s stories and some interesting facts about the storm.  This has been my best effort to share it all with those of you who don’t know what it’s like first hand. Each year, I try to write something for you that helps put a face on this reality.  The eye of Hurricane Katrina made landfall in my hometown.  My life was forever changed.  History washed away and starting over in a place that felt comparable to the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.  Each year I take this journey again, but I learn a little more and I reflect a little more and I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to be here today and with little struggle compared to so many.  It is also a huge part of my healing process to do these projects.-Suz 8/29/10

I re-read my closing from the series I wrote last year, and want to share it here with you today:
From “Coming out of the dark” by Suz (post date 8/30/2009):
I have spent this week focusing on facts about Hurricane Katrina in order to raise awareness for a few reasons.  #1 most people were led to believe by the media that Katrina struck New Orleans, LA but that is not all together true.  The media favored New Orleans because it is a famous city, but the media failed the MS Gulf Coast where Katrina truly made landfall and did far more devastation than was done in New Orleans.  The actual eye of the storm landed in the very town where I live, Waveland, MS.  #2 Four years have passed since Katrina made landfall and people are beginning to forget.  We are still struggling to rebuild and I’m sad to report that, for the most part, things here are not much different than they were 4 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, the debris and garbage have been cleared… but the land is still barren and remains an empty shell of a town (actually a few towns) that once was great.  But, I do not want to be negative here.  I want to generate understanding.  It is not completely illogical that the rebuilding process is moving so slowly.  It is very hard to comprehend complete devastation and where to begin to rebuild an entire city (cities actually).  Not only that, but how do you rebuild a city so that it’s better equipped in the event that is should ever face another disaster like this? It’s not easy.  It takes time.  I admit, I complain constantly about the stagnant recovery and I shouldn’t.  Being a resident and eye witness I should be understanding of the very statement I just made about how hard it really is to rebuild after complete devastation, but living in the stagnation and harboring memories of what once was is not an easy task.  If you want to say I have courage, then say it is for just that… living here among this when so many others have moved away.  But don’t misunderstand me.  I completely understand why so many (more than not) people moved away afterward… they were homeless, they were jobless, they had families to care for and they needed to proceed faster than the conditions would allow.  I was more fortunate in the fact that I wasn’t rendered homeless or jobless and didn’t have a family to care for, so I stayed.  I’m not a hero, I’m just a person.
I’m a person forever changed after this devastation.  But a person changed for the better in ways I cannot begin to describe in a blog or a letter or in any words that even I could understand.  You see, I was blessed with the ability to give to others.  I was able to house others for up to two years after the storm and I was able to feed and care for others in ways that so many could not.  This was humbling for me.  This was awesome for me.  From the moment the storm ended and the years that followed, I was able to help and it was wonderful.  I guess my only mistake in that period was not taking a moment to consider my own feelings of pain because I continuously convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to feel pain since I was so much better off than the average person.  The losses that I suffered were not so much material though.  My friends moved away, almost all of them.  My two best friends, one who lived up the road from me that I spent much time with and one I’d spent my whole life with and shared time with daily.  That was a tremendous loss for me.  The places that I liked to go for fun, the places that I attended school, the landmark of my first kiss, the physical locations of many milestones in my life… gone forever… that was a tremendous loss for me.  But I became so absorbed in helping others in moving forward that I didn’t mourn my losses for quite some time, at least 2 years after the storm.   And helping others healed me and made me a better person.
But another thing that changed my outlook was seeing the good in others.  In these modern times I had come to see people as selfish and uncaring.  I had grown bitter as the media continued to show horrible crimes and selfish actions of people day in and day out.  Each day that passed made it harder for me to believe there was any good left in the world.  Each day it seemed my heart grew colder … until Katrina.  Immediately following that storm, I saw people reaching out to help one and other.  I saw people from all walks of life, standing in long lines waiting for supplies… holding each other as they cried.  Race did not matter.  Age did not matter.  Financial status did not matter.  We were all one … for once.  It was amazing and beautiful.  Even though the circumstances were so hard, we were one.  If was fantastic.  People were helping each other without even asking.  If one saw another struggling, they immediately helped.  It was simply amazing.  It was great.  And then came the others.  Before the government stepped in, the Christians came … from everywhere.  Whether or not you are Christian, you have to respect these people who came as quickly as possible from all over the world to aid us …  Living in tents just like the residents …  Working round the clock to feed and clothe the people of the area and eventually working toward building homes for the homeless.  The kindness and giving that poured in was another thing that truly changed my heart.  As time passed, it wasn’t just Christians but several organizations of people with good hearts who came to help.  Groups of people who were part of no organization at all, but just wanted to help came too.  Groups of people who formed organizations just to be able to help, they came too.  Again, I find myself in a position where I could write a novel just about the change of heart that occurred within me … about the kindness I saw daily … about the good that surrounded us here.  But this is my last blog in the series, so I need to make some other points too.
Many of you have asked about my status today.  As you have read, when Katrina struck I had just purchased a new home and still owned the old one I was in the process of moving out of/renting to a couple.  I had a brand new mortgage that was costing a rather large sum on top of an old mortgage that was supposed to be paid with rent I was obviously no longer to collect (that home was completely destroyed).  After struggling for 2 years as I supported the bills of 2 households (including one that no longer existed) and the financial needs of myself and anywhere from 7-4 additional residents in my home (depending on the time frame) I found myself on the brink of bankruptcy.  I could not receive government aid or any favor due to the fact that on record I appeared to be financially better off than most so I was not eligible for any form of government aid.  My vehicle, though it was paid for, was falling apart.  I was in a bad financial state.  I had to sell my only good home in order to make ends meet and just as I thought I would have to start all over again, like everyone else, God had saved one more blessing just for me.  My employer had a program to rebuild the homes of all employees devastated by the storm.  I had originally refused to be a part of the program due to the fact that I was so much better off than any of my fellow employees, but when my boss learned of my struggle he insisted I join the program and rebuild on my original piece of property.  Today, I am in a new home thanks to that blessing.  Today, I am on my feet again thanks to that blessing.  I didn’t come out ahead, but I broke even … still better off than the average person here.  And, I admit, I still feel somewhat guilty about that but I shudder to think where I would be today without it.

Bridge Restores a lifeline to a battered town (NY Post original date: May 29, 2007)

Sometimes a bridge is more than just a bridge. The new span across the copper-colored St. Louis Bay connects today’s diminished reality to memories of a more generous past, a hopeful link to the return of better days. And it has ended the isolation, physical and mental, of a place that once considered itself a jewel of the Gulf Coast, a sun-baked collection of picturesque old frame houses that Hurricane Katrina smashed, then severed from its brethren to the east. The surge from the storm wiped out the concrete bridge carrying U.S. Highway 90 that had stood for a half-century. The recovery is creeping along. Wind off the bay is still the loudest noise in the empty-seeming downtown, whistling through ruined buildings and banging loose siding. Before the storm Bay St. Louis was a favored seaside retreat for New Orleanians — the historian Stephen E. Ambrose had lived and written here before his death in 2002 — and, coming from the east, a genteel respite from the garishness of Biloxi’s casinos.“It’s major, psychologically,” said Alicein Chambers, who opened the Mockingbird Cafe a year after the storm. “It just feels like we’re moving, we’re making progress, we’re going forward.” Before, “we were all just on this little cut-off island,” she said; now, “we’re happy to be part of the coast again.|
The partly illusory feeling of isolation — the east-west Interstate 10, just 10 miles to the north, has been available throughout — was nonetheless pervasive. The old way of communicating with the neighbors in Pass Christian and Biloxi, first by way of the wooden bridge of the 1920s, then the concrete one of the 1950s, had been wiped out. And a seven-minute dash across the bay had turned into a 45-minute commute.“After the storm, we were an island unto ourselves,” said Brian Rushing, a minister at the First Baptist Church. “We truly have been isolated from the rest of the Gulf Coast community.”Bay St. Louis Mayor, Eddie Favre, is still living in a trailer, and the old City Hall downtown is still empty. He has moved municipal functions to a former utility company building on the highway. Downtown, on a deserted street, an injunction scrawled on a vacant frame house — “Please respect our loss. Do not enter” — seems superfluous, as there is nobody around to read it.
Mayor Favre calls the bridge a tremendous psychological and emotional boost.“For 626 days, we felt that isolation,” he said. “The bridge, in so many ways, whether it was walking or fishing, it was just so much a part of our daily life.”

Taken from “Bridging the gap” By Suz (5/17/2007):

Yesterday it finally felt better. Yesterday it finally felt like home. The Bay bridge was finally opened. I rode through my home town and felt happy for the first time since Katrina. I guess, because for the first time, I was able to see progress on our beach front. The best part of our wonderful town remained a ghost town, separated as if a deserted island without a bridge to cross the water. To get to the other half of the Gulf Coast, you would have to drive around to take the interstate, adding about 30 minutes to your ride and a good $5-$10 in additional gas!! We were severed from what we knew. Having lived here all my life, it just felt so wrong to be severed this way. I seldom even drove to the barren beach front any more that used to be my favorite place to go.

Today, for the first time, I took the bridge home from work. “Sweet Emotion” cranked on my stereo, windows down, and a smile across my face. It was a gorgeous day. The bridge, now constructed so differently, made me feel as though I was traveling to a whole new place. It felt strange … but good!
Some readers’ comments:
Neil- I know exactly how you feel Susan.  When I went over the bridge on Thursday it felt like I was free again! .. These past two years have made me feel like I have been trapped on a blown up island.  Although there is really nothing on the other side of the bridge till Gulfport, it gives a sense of freedom that is hard to quantify, or explain to someone that has not been living in Bay St. Louis since Katrina.  The bridge does give some hope that the coast will come back.
Drew- I LOVE this blog! I will keep going back to people have NO IDEA, but seriously, people have no idea how much milestones in improvement can make such a HUGE difference. Like I remember when they put the two trailers and a deck where the yacht club used to be, and I joined all the locals there for a party and it was so nice to have some semblance of progress. So nice. Hell like the celebration of electricity. Just getting f’n electricity was a reason to be excited and have a party. ;-)Friends have a house on the bluff that survived the storm. I will never forget the first party I attended at their house. To see lights at night that were not run by a generator and a working bathroom was something most people can never understand how gratifying it can be. We grilled and drank and I sat back and quietly listened to all the stories. It was a magical night that is imprinted in my memory forever. The new bridge is so glorious. It is a tribute in a way to making things better. The effort put in by so many that have come to help the Bay rebuild is so heart warming. When I drove around early after the storm. Every time I saw a Georgia Power truck, I would roll down the window and thank them. I was so blown away by their commitment and effort to get the job done not even being from there. It is people like that that reinforce my belief in humanity. They came to a place where they were not even going to have basic human services and comforts, and stayed for months until the job was done.

Do not forget us.
We are the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Remember our name.
We will make history again…
as the people who fought
to revive
the greatest place we’ve ever known…
Our home!-Suz 8/28/2009

Will South Mississippi be recovered in five more years?
By KAREN NELSON – klnelson@sunherald.com
State Sen. Debbie Dawkins, D-Pass Christian, and Ocean Springs architect Bruce Tolar both said progress has been slowed by a holdup in recovery money. It hasn’t flowed where it was needed, they said. Both said they might consider the Coast recovered closer to 20 years after the storm, not 10.
“Five years feels like we’ve been in quicksand,” Tolar said. “I think we’re just now starting to see things happen that we thought we would see three years ago.”
Scott King, director of policy and research at the Gulf Coast Business Council, predicts in the next few years, as the recession fades, the Coast will see an acceleration in construction, leisure and hospitality jobs that will exceed those of the nation.
“We’ve made progress in the midst of a recession and prohibitive insurance rates,” King said. “The recession will take care of itself, and when the insurance rates start to come down, there will be a real stimulus to the economy.”
He said Katrina forced the Coast to work together and gave some cities a chance to look at how they want to grow. But what the Coast will actually look like is hard to speculate, he said.

AFTERMATH – Hurricane Katrina: Five Years Later
By J.R. WELSH of The Sea Coast Echo Aug 28, 2010
Five years later, Katrina has become a bookmark in the lives of thousands. Stand in line at any store, and you’ll hear it over and over: Time is marked by the prelude “before the storm,” or “after the storm.”
Historic homes were left in rubble, businesses were ruined, dreams were shattered. And in the ensuing five years, crime has risen, people who managed to survive the storm have died from Katrina-induced stress or illness, marriages have come apart at the seams.
Jim Thriffiley, a retired educator who served 30-plus years on the Bay St. Louis City Council, has been quietly keeping tabs on Katrina recovery. While the area has sparkling new government buildings and roads rebuilt with federal money, he thinks the progress glimmers on the surface but hasn’t really improved things for ordinary people. Five years later, he said, Katrina’s largest legacy is a lack of prosperity.

“A lot of the people who are under 45 – maybe 50 to 75 percent of those people – don’t have a permanent job where they can work 40 hours a week,” he said. “I see a lot of people who are discouraged.”
With city revenues falling, the loss of the vacation home economy, and a precipitous decrease in population since the storm, Thriffiley fears the area is returning to the low economic tides that flowed here in 1965, when Hurricane Betsy struck Louisiana.

Homesick in my home town
gazing out the window
I pull the blinds down
I mourn for you
more with each day that passes
I wish I could see you through rose colored glasses
I took you for granted
your beauty, your history, your imagery
vanished
I’m lost without you
though I seem to find my way
your landmarks and milestones have all washed away
I’m homesick and broken hearted
ever since the day we parted-Suz 7-29-10





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29 08 2010

As most of you know, this is the 3rd part to a series I am writing about Hurricane Katrina in commemoration of the 5 year anniversary this weekend.  I ask you to please join me on this journey by starting at the first blog, “X Marks the spot” here: https://suzrocks.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/x-marks-the-spot/ followed by “The Great Outdoors” here: https://suzrocks.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/the-great-outdoors/

It was impossible to get close to my cottage.  The surrounding houses were scattered about like broken toys, matchsticks, piles of lumber and people’s personal belongings … boats, vehicles, and many massive trees.  It’s hard to describe, but just imagine a city … a neighborhood … picture it in your mind. Picture it as if it were a model that you were able to manipulate.  Now imagine putting it inside a tank of water and swirling the water very quickly and then lifting the model out of the tank to see what’s left… this is the best way I can explain it.  This is what every neighborhood in several cities for miles around looked like … apocalyptic. –Suz 8/25/10

Katrina Relief Worker Leigh Russell tells her story of first arriving on the coast in November of 2005 after joining her church’s mission to help the people here:
I left corporate America for life as a minister’s wife and home school mom and have since been on five mission trips, three overseas and two in the United States. The Hurricane Katrina relief trip was the hardest emotionally.
Driving through Pass Christian, a small Gulf-side community just east of Saint Louis Bay, we could see into residents’ homes because entire walls were torn away. Razor wire was a frequent reminder that the area had just recently been reopened. Some of the buildings still standing were little more than picnic shelters, with the remains of roofs held up by nothing but the wall studs. Sometimes only a slab remained to indicate where a home once stood. There might be a foundation or front steps leading to nothing — doors, walls and the rest of the homes were blown away in the storm. Sometimes we would see families picking through the rubble, searching for belongings or anything that could be salvaged from the mess.

Pass Christian, MS

Similar to the result of an atomic blast. The Penthouse Condominiums in Pass Christian, Mississippi, along with most other properties in the area were completely obliterated by Katrina. 100% of all business properties within the coastal community of Pass Christian had been destroyed. In a published damage assessment of Bay St. Louis and Long Beach, Mississippi, Digital Globe stated that the majority of single family homes were destroyed (foundations/pad remain).

Our journey seemed relentless.  My heart longed to check on my family, but I could barely journey within a 3 mile radius let alone venture out toward their location 8-10 miles away.  We encountered more people with more stories.  Stories of riding out this unfathomable nightmare from a tree top, hanging on for dear life.  Stories of struggling to save pets and swimming for survival including a man who had to swim for about 6 hours with his cat under his arm.  So many stories of survival.  Some stories of inspiration and others of desperation.  We followed a woman who had walked many miles to check on her home, she was heading in the same direction as us.  As we approached, her home was gone.  She was shrieking and panicking.  She was trying to understand if she was actually in the right location or if she’d gotten lost.  We were getting closer to Christian’s house and expecting the worse.  She had left her cats there under the assumption it might be bad but not this bad.  She had yet to forgive herself for this decision.  We were praying for the best.
From the outside, her house looked normal.  We had hope, but when we opened the door it appeared as if the inside of her home were a blender that had been stuffed with a mixture all of her belongings and thick, black mud.  It was surreal.  Furnishings resting on high shelves, clothes hanging from a ceiling fan that’s blades were curling downward and dripping water.  We could see a clear line about 6 inches below the ceiling.  The cats began to meow.  They must’ve floated on different items, compacted in that small open space and rode out the storm.  It was unbelievable.  Christian was hysterical.  Tears streamed down our faces.  The cats were skiddish and wild. –Suz 8/27/10

We’d encountered many survivors, stranded just like us in the aftermath of what really felt like a nuclear war or something I just can’t find the words to describe.  The list included an elderly couple who’d lived behind me for years when I was in the cottage.  They had planned to stay in their vehicle until they could find a solution.  Like me, they couldn’t get to their property in that old neighborhood.
We insisted they join us in our safe home where we had supplies and plenty of room.  We also had a man join us who had to swim for his life for 8 hours.  He was new to the area and had moved out here for a job.  He lived on the beach and did not realize what kind of danger he was in when he chose to stay behind.  He was very shaken and weak.  My new home became a safe haven for a few of us who were stuck in this broken town with no way in or out, nowhere to go, and little supplies but still we were better off than most.  This was the beginning of what felt as if we were placed on a survival mission of sorts.
As the days passed, we all had special duties which mostly included obtaining supplies like ice and food from various locations.  The beginnings of the survival techniques included stealing from damaged stores.  But, for everyone, it was the only option.  Stores were guarded by policeman who allowed the scavenging for survival.  After a couple of days, some crews were able to get out to our area and offer ice and Meals Ready to Eat (known as MRE’s, the same time of meals military teams eat when out on missions…etc…).  It was a long journey, by foot, to reach designated areas.  Our team was equipped with hijacked shopping carts and this was the norm of everyone.  We would take turns getting these items throughout the day and in the evening taking turns preparing the meals and sharing in responsibilities. It was work, but it was part of a life changing experience.  Before meals, we would say grace and give thanks for being alive and able to have such comforts among so many who did not.  –Suz 8/28/10

An areal photograph of Waveland, MS

Taken from “Take a left at the pile of debris that used to be…” by Suz July, 2006
Once this coastal town had a remarkable culture rich with art, music, fine people and a New Orleans flair. Today the face of the city is blank, dry and desolate spattered with rubble and debris. Inland, businesses are slowly sprouting but they are owned by strangers and filled with strangers.
Having no remnants of our history, and replacing history with casinos, hotels, condos and such is painful progress. Don’t get me wrong, progress at all at this point is better than stagnating in rubble and desolation. It’s just hard to stomach a complete facelift on everything.
The local scene confuses me. The bars are flashy and big and sparkling new. They are filled with the heavy odor of cheap cologne, and there are 10 men to every one woman. Part of the coolness of being out and about was the competition. Ladies check out the women just as much as the men. The competition is an art.  The local women were all southern beauties to behold.  That graceful dance is missing in the scene these days.

Katrina changed my life in many ways… the way I felt, the way I looked at things.  I awakened me to who I really am.  A survivor.  A person with emotional and physical strength far beyond I ever imagined was inside of me.  The most defining moment, for me, was the day after Katrina.  I woke up early with a plan to seek out my parents.  I knew it would take at least a day to get to their home, my childhood home, but it was the only thing that mattered to me.  I packed a bag with water and granola bars and Christian and I were psyching ourselves up for the long road ahead.  As we gathered our bicycles and stepped out to the street, it was as if an aura surrounded the Toyota Fourunner as it crept down the road toward us.  I watched in awe as my mother and father parked in front of us and jumped out.  Tears streamed down my mother’s face and my own.  My father, equipped with a chain saw, cut their way to us for miles.  They traveled in their SUV that had been flooded in the tidal surge.  It was a miracle that the vehicle was able to make the journey.  We embraced.  For that glorious moment, it felt as if nothing else in the world mattered.  Later, they made it home safely and the SUV was never able to drive again. –Suz 8/28/10

“Many of you have already seen the videos and news stories from the national media. I can tell you that aerial photography, as graphic as it is, in no way shows the true story from the ground. I struggle to find the words. The faces of friends, and family, the hollow fearful eyes as Mississippi Gulf Coast residents, long experienced with hurricanes, know that this is a life changing event,” Keith Burton/Gulf Coast News (article date September 5, 2005) .  “The national news media has given you the big picture on how the Federal and State governments are responding and the news has been bad on that front with widespread criticism. But people just don’t appreciate the scale of what has happened, and how hard it is just to begin to help.”

Thank you again for joining me in this series.  Please return for the next installment, where I will describe my journey post
Katrina as well as the journey of my home.





The Great Outdoors

27 08 2010

This is the second part to a series about Hurricane Katrina.
Please read the previous blog “X marks the spot” to read the first part of this series.

USA TODAY ranked the story of Hurricane Katrina 4th place in their “25 Headlines that shaped History”

Other nations couldn’t help but acknowledge the devastation.   Some headlines from September, 2005:
China Morning Post: “Dollar Dives Amid Katrina Chaos” — The U.S. dollar dropped to a three-month low point against the euro on Friday, faltering as the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina threatened to cripple growth in the world’s largest economy.
TF1 TV(France): It’s unusual for the United States, the number one economic and military superpower in the world, to ask for international help for a domestic catastrophe. The last time this occurred was after the September 11 attacks.
Die Welt(Germany): America looks aghast at a third world situation on its own soil, splintered and full of violence.
The Australian: “Forgotten Biloxi Belts Out the Blues” –The slow drive towards Biloxi is like glimpsing the post-oil future, a scene out of the post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max.

12 hours had passed almost to the minute before Katrina finally allowed us to step outside our safe haven.  It was 5:00 in the afternoon and the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on what appeared to be the aftermath of nuclear war.  We were stunned and speechless…and thankful when we looked back on the house we were in.  Large trees were scattered like match sticks all around the house, having barely missed it.  Most of the roof was intact and damage was minor.  We looked out to the street and among the scattered debris people began to emerge.  Everyone appeared to be in a zombie like state.  We focused on a couple who’s clothes were tattered and torn and they were bloodied and bruised.  We offered them help and listened to their story of how they’d swam for their lives from a home that was washed away in the surge of water just a few blocks away.  They swam for about 8 hours as they recalled.  I get goose bumps remembering this conversation.  – Suz 8/26/10

From “Quarrelling through Katrina” on msnbc.com:
Hurricane enthusiast George “Sonny” Hoffman found himself in the company of an unlikely group of strangers when he went to Waveland, Miss., to meet Hurricane Katrina. Sonny believed the group was in a world of trouble and appointed himself commander. As he tells it, he began formulating plans and back-up plans. Sonny was alone in his belief that the Texan Motel, a mile and a half from the waterfront, would flood. He predicted the storm surge would reach 20 feet on Highway 90 and 7 feet at the hotel.
“Everyone had the sense of relief that when the sun came up that you know — it was over, you’d made it through the night,” says Colleen, even though the wind was still blowing. It was only then that Katrina brought the deluge.
As Sonny remembers it: “It was Robert who brought it to my attention that the parking lot across the street was filling up with water. It had become a lake, the cars were floating. Their lights were on. Then we notice that there’s a river flowing down Highway 90. It looked like the Colorado River.”
Colleen describes it this way: “I walked out to the street to see if I could see anything. And that’s when the wave (came). … It looked like somebody ought to be surfing on it. It had a white cap. … I would have expected a parade of pink elephants before I would have expected this huge wave coming down Highway 90.”

From “Hurricane Katrina: Survivor Stories” on CTVnews:
“We grabbed a lady and pulled her out the window and then we swam with the current. It was terrifying. You should have seen the cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim.”
Schovest lived at Quiet Water Beach apartments in Biloxi, Miss., where authorities estimate 30 people perished.-
Joy Schovest

Just a few months prior to Katrina I had found myself in a very good position in life.  I was poised to begin a new endeavor in property management.  My quaint little cottage just a couple of blocks away from the beautiful Waveland beach front had raised in value dramatically.  I’d remodeled it somewhat and transformed it from an outdated camp style home to an attractive and inviting cottage style home.  I was in a position to move forward, using that home as a propeller toward bigger and better things.  With a good paying job, money in the bank, the humble beginnings of a classic car collection and a valuable home I was able to take a loan against these items and purchase a bigger, better home (under the agreement that my cottage would be rented on a regular basis and the classic cars would be rebuilt and re-sold for profit).  I had moved most of my belongings into my beautiful new home, only about 3 miles from my cottage and was aimed for success.  I got a pretty decent deal on the new home and envisioned it turning more profit and becoming a land lord of sorts.  I had dreams.  The cottage was emptied except the garage full of antiques, collectables, and childhood memories stored in boxes I just hadn’t found the time to move to my new house yet.  The new house was still cluttered with boxes full of valuables, particularly my music memorabilia such as collectable items, autographs and photographs.  It was too much work to sort through it all, so I kept it stored in the recreation room at the new house out of the way until I could find the time.  When thinking of material things, it was a bit ironic that everything I had stored at that cottage and in boxes in the new house happened to be the most important and irreplaceable of all my personal belongings in life … and the only items that were lost in Katrina.  During the storm, in that fateful moment that I stepped down into the recreation room and noticed it flooding it didn’t even dawn on me that I should quickly start gathering my valuables and move them to higher ground.  I guess I was in too much of a state of shock.
I never dreamed I would need to cover my property for flooding.  It didn’t seem fathomable.  The cottage was 13 feet above sea level and had braved many hurricanes in it’s nearly 40 year life span.  The bank didn’t require flood insurance and the insurance company didn’t recommend it.  Of course, it was close to the beach so I wouldn’t have seen it as a safe place to stay simply because of the wind. Besides, I had a new home at least a mile north of the cottage that was deemed hurricane proof by the seller.  And, I have to say, that turned out to be pretty true thankfully.
Christian’s house was not far from the cottage.  After helping a few people we met on the street, we noted that while we still had at least 3 hours of daylight left we should venture to our other properties and survey the damage.  We hopped on our bicycles for what would normally be a 15 minute journey and rode into a 3 hour adventure were we would struggle with obstacles and find ourselves carrying those bikes over our backs while trudging through heavy debris more often than we were able to ride them.  We had no idea what we were in store for…-Suz 8/27/10
Between Biloxi and Ocean SpringsAs I explained in “X marks the spot”, this series will continue for the next few days honoring the 5 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Please visit again.  Thank you.
Suz






X marks the spot

26 08 2010

On August 29, 2005  Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster the United States has ever known, made landfall near Waveland, MS … my hometown.  Overshadowed by the flood damage caused by Katrina’s strength breaking the levees in Louisiana, many people don’t realize that ground zero was actually in the state of Mississippi.  At this point, however, that is irrelevant.  For the last 5 years I have been blogging periodically on this topic regarding anything from damage, to recovery, to humanitarians, and many other effects of this life changing event.  Each year, at this time, I post a series of commemorative pieces on myspace.  This year, here on wordpress, I offer you a collage of things I have written about Hurricane Katrina as well as some other items from other sources.  This will be my first series posted on wordpress and I hope that you will join me in this meaningful journey…

What I lost cannot be found
washed away at sea
what I long for cannot be achieved
so I wonder if I should leave
leave behind my home
the home that left me behind
left me in a place that I don’t recognize
-Suz 7/29/10

STATS:
The costliest natural disaster in US history
One of the 5 deadliest hurricanes in US history
The deadliest US hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobe Hurricane
Total property damage $81 Billion +
Upon landfall, Katrina sustained 125mph winds and extended 120 miles from the storm’s center
Katrina maintained strength well into Mississippi, finally losing hurricane strength more than 150 miles inland

Taken from “Hold the Salt Please” by Suz (Original post date September 16, 2008):
“In the wake of all these depressing anniversaries, Katrina & 9/11, I’m feeling a little down.  I must admit, I don’t think of 9/11 as much as I should… though I remember it like yesterday. For days I set glued to the TV in a depressed state as the media continuously replayed the horrific images of the twin towers destruction.  Though, because I don’t actually live near the destruction, after a couple of years this memory was filed on a back shelf in my mind… only to be reminded when the media brought it back to the forefront.  I don’t mean to downplay 9/11, but for me it was best shelved because the depressive and fear-filled effect it had on me was too much of a burden to bear.
Hurricane Katrina, on the other hand, is a horrific event I’m reminded of daily because I live at ground zero.  I live among the stagnating recovery process and dark cloud that continues to loom over my town.  I never got away from it, so I don’t see the progress that some see.  Driving around town this weekend, it felt as though Katrina hit just yesterday.  My stomach ached and my eyes filled with tears.  It seems never ending.  The few friends I have left here are all in the market to relocate now.  Employment is down here and businesses are closing shop left and right.  I have been looking for a job for 5 weeks now to no avail.  I feel like I’ve moved to a miserable place that lacks opportunity or activity, and I’m homesick for a place that is only a distant memory now.”

Taken from “Remembering the Day the Coast Changed” by Melissa M. Scallan (Sun Herald writer):
“Latham, the director of MEMA, and other emergency officials monitored the hurricane advisories and knew Mississippi likely would take a big hit. What they didn’t know was how much of the Coast would be wiped away in an eight-hour span.
Katrina’s beginnings were somewhat different from other storms. It grew from a combination of a tropical wave, a trough and the remnants of Tropical Depression 10 nearly 950 miles east of Barbados. It became Tropical Depression 12 on Aug. 23, 2005, and passed over South Florida as a Category 1 hurricane two days later. The storm weakened only slightly and the eye stayed intact as Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Low wind shear and warm water fueled the hurricane and by Aug. 28, Katrina took up nearly the entire Gulf and had winds of 175 mph.
Its fury did not discriminate. Katrina killed young and old, rich and poor. The oldest victim was 96-year-old Pearl Frazier of Biloxi. She couldn’t leave the home her late husband had built on Back Bay in the 1970s. The youngest known victim was 2-year-old Matthew Tart of Pass Christian. The 20-foot storm surge overtook the home he lived in on Lorraine Avenue.
The winds were a strong Category 3, but the storm surge topped 30 feet in some places, crushing tens of thousands of houses, churches and businesses and covering many more with water.”

Christian and I sat across the dining table with a transistor radio between us and a deck of cards we tried to focus on playing with. The wind howled outside and we tried to block out scary noises like crashes and bangs.  We were struggling to pick up any radio station and honed in on a a.m. station broadcasting soul music and storm updates out of New Orleans.  Our guts wrenched to the point of feeling physically ill as we listened to the frightening broadcast that began to unfold detailing the struggles for survival in Louisiana, and we were in the thick … dead center of the same storm.   Earlier I had lost the phone signal while speaking to my mother, 8 long miles away from me and screaming about windows bursting and water entering her home.  She and my father, now in their early 70’s, alone in a situation I fought imagining.  I couldn’t fight the urge to have a cigarette inside my home.  I decided I would go into the recreation room to smoke and try to keep it out the house.  I opened the door and stepped down into a fast growing pool of water.  My heart sank.  This house was 23 feet above sea level! My first though was of those, 8 miles south of me and below sea level.  Visions of loved ones flashed in my mind.  I rushed to a window, calling for Christian and we stood in awe watching white caps rolling down the street.  My mind was racing on thoughts of survival and wishing I knew how to swim.  Moments earlier we were praying for the lives of those in danger, and now we were praying for our lives.  -Suz 8/23/10

PEOPLE’s Sept. 19, 2008  issue ran an abridged version of reporter Alice Jackson’s tragic story: When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi coast on Aug. 29, she lost her Ocean Springs, Miss., home and nearly all her possessions. Here she describes the storm and its aftermath in greater detail. Here are some quotes from her story:
“Saturday, I evacuated to my friend’s house with my 81-year-old mother, my 28-year-old niece and my sister-in-law. We packed clothes, food and water – plus axes, an extension ladder and flares. That way we could cut our way out through the roof if necessary. As a reporter, I’d covered too many hurricanes where people drowned in their attics because they couldn’t escape the rising water. On Sunday, the news showed the eye of the hurricane heading toward our exact location. That night, before the TV went out, a report said, ‘It’s looking better for New Orleans, and the very worst for the Gulfport area.’ After hearing that, I said to everyone, ‘I want you to forgive me now, because I think I made a mistake. I’m afraid we’re all going to have to fight very hard not to die.’
All night I’d been watching a giant pine tree in a neighbor’s yard. It had been bending mightily, but had stayed rooted. Suddenly I heard a deafening crack, and I yelled, “Run!” Seconds later the tree smashed through the house. We had escaped to the master bedroom closet in the center of the house. My sister-in-law hauled a mattress off the bed and leaned it on top of my mother and my niece. Then we noticed that the walls were heaving, so we raced around the house, opening windows to relieve the pressure build-up. Looking outside, we watched in horror as the house behind us turned into what looked like a living, breathing monster. The roof would lift, the house would expand, and then the roof would fall. Finally, the house exploded.
The next day, we drove out to see what had happened. When we turned toward my street, all I saw was a big lake where there once had been houses, trees and roads.  Finally, about three miles from my property, we were stopped by debris: the remains of what had once been beautiful homes, with tattered curtains blowing from shattered windows and overturned furniture covered in mud. We walked through the debris, which was sometimes head-high.Some women were pointing toward an empty slab. They told us, ‘Last night, there was a house there, and a whole family was in it.’ One woman screamed, ‘Where are the children?’ We walked toward them, and I stepped on something. It was a little shoe, with a leg attached; it was a body, buried in mud. I told the women as calmly as I could, ‘Please don’t pull this out; let the rescue crews do it. You don’t have anywhere to put it, and you can’t just leave it out here.’ My house … it was completely gone. I knelt down on my slab and said out loud, ‘I am so grateful that the people I love have lived.’ And I cried. I had 20 good years in that house, and I feel fortunate.
After I went to Sunday mass in my old church – which was still standing – I decided it was time to stop digging in the mud and start rebuilding my life. I no longer want to live in Mississippi. You know you’ve seen it all when you’ve watched deputies taking ice chests from the local Winn-Dixie to store bodies. I will leave here and make a new life somewhere else.”

Although, winds, flooding and occasional tornadoes accompany hurricanes, most damage and death are caused by the storm surge.  The surge consists of the rising of the sea level caused by low pressure, high winds, and high waves. These are characteristic of hurricanes as they reach land. Storm surges cause significant flooding, and being caught in one is extremely hazardous.
The fall in air pressure with a hurricane helps with the rise in water. Normal pressure at sea level is 29.92126 inches or 14.6969 pounds per square inch. In the wall of the hurricane’s eye, ascending and spiraling winds lift over a million tons of air per second. This process drops the surface pressure as the air soars. The surface of the sea rises one foot for each one inch drop in barometric pressure due to the air rising within the eyewall.
If you think about the weight or mass of water, it is easy to understand why a storm surge can cause so much damage. One cubic meter of water has a mass of 1,000 kilograms. If we look at the weight of water using the British system, most of us are used to, we see that a cubic yard of water weighs nearly 1,700 pounds! (Source: Center for Atmospheric Sciences)

No sooner had the water began to cover the floor of the recreation room, it began to seep out never making it into the rest of the house.  Looking out now, we could see the whitecaps change direction moving almost as quickly as they had rolled in.  It was this suction that put so many lives in danger.  Though we realized we were momentarily safe from downing, we then began to notice the many trees outside swaying close to the house.  We quickly realized we needed to stay in the center of the house and that smoking indoors in the center of the house was not only our best option, but our only option.  We prayed heavily and paced, chain smoking and listening to a voice on the radio telling of how the roof was peeling off the New Orleans Superdome filled with evacuated people.  We were about 6 hours into the storm and about 4 hours past the last time I’d heard my mother’s voice.  I was feeling ill.  I’d become sick thinking of what I knew so many people, so widespread were enduring.  My parents weighed heavy on my mind. -Suz 8/25/10

The Gulf coast of Mississippi suffered massive damage from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, leaving 238 people dead, 67 missing, and billions of dollars in damage: bridges, barges, boats, piers, houses and cars were washed inland.  Katrina traveled up the entire state, and afterwards, all 82 counties in Mississippi were declared disaster areas for federal assistance, 47 for full assistance. Battered by wind, rain and storm surge, some beachfront neighborhoods were completely leveled. Preliminary estimates by Mississippi officials calculated that 90% of the structures within half a mile of the coastline were completely destroyed, and that storm surges traveled as much as six miles (10 km) inland in portions of the state’s coast. One apartment complex with approximately thirty residents seeking shelter inside collapsed.
A number of streets and bridges were washed away. In the weeks after the storm, with the connectivity of the coastal U.S. Highway 90 shattered, traffic traveling parallel to the coast was reduced first to State Road 11 (parallel to I-10) then to two lanes on the remaining I-10 span when it was opened.
All three coastal counties of the state were severely affected by the storm. Katrina’s surge was the most extensive, as well as the highest, in the documented history of the United States;  there were inundated by the storm surge and in all three cases affecting most of the populated areas. Surge covered almost the entire lower half of Hancock County, destroying the coastal communities. Remarkably, over 90% of Pascagoula, the easternmost coastal city in Mississippi, and about 75 miles (121 km) east of Katrina’s landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border, was flooded from surge at the height of the storm.
Although Hurricane Katrina made landfall well to the west, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were both affected by tropical-storm force winds and a storm surge varying from 12 to 16 feet.
Katrina’s storm surge led to 53 levee breaches in the federally built levee system protecting metro New Orleans and the failure of the 40 Arpent Canal levee. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans was breached as Hurricane Katrina passed just east of the city limits. Failures occurred in New Orleans and surrounding communities. The major levee breaches in the city left approximately 80% of the city flooded. Levee breaches in New Orleans also caused widespread loss of life, with over 700 bodies recovered in New Orleans by October 23, 2005. (Source: Wikipedia.com)

Please follow me on this journey over the next few days as I post this series about Hurricane Katrina.
Thank you,
Suz